To the Abbey Primary

Little did I know what was in front of us, that day long ago when Gene McKevitt and I ran out of Senior Infants in St Clare’s Convent School to follow Willie Carr up to the Abbey Primary. Brother Hennessy placed me in one class and Willie and Gene in another. From that day on we were never to sit again together in the one class. 

The Abbey was first opened in 1937, about six years before we encountered it and was still known as the new school. With the exception of second class with Brother Hickey, my sojourn there was a happy one. No matter how hard that brother tired, nor his patience, I simply couldn’t absorb the intricacies of subtraction and lay awake many’s the night trying to figure it out.

 Corporal punishment was the in thing and I returned home often, like may boys of that class with sore hands. In the end I got to grips with it and managed that year to tie for first place in class with one of Newry’s celebrated sons, Pat Guinan.

Thereafter school held little fear for me until after the 11+ in 1949 when I first met Brother Willie Rehill. Boy, did he put the fear of God in me! And in others! His boast at the end of that first year was that he would make every boy in the class cry! He was a hard taskmaster and drew tears from 99% of the boys.

Little wonder that as soon as I reached the school-leaving age of fourteen, I took early advantage to seize my freedom. Three days after my fourteen birthday I went to work!

.. Tom delivers Milk … 

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